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Am J Pathol. 1995 May;146(5):1113-20.

The expression of Epstein-Barr virus latent proteins is related to the pathological features of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders.

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Laboratory of Pathology, E. Herriot Hospital, Lyon, France.


Transplant recipients are at increased risk for the development of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs). PTLDs harbor genomes of the Epstein-Barr virus, a herpesvirus that immortalizes B cells in vitro. At least five viral proteins are required for immortalization. Two of them are particularly important. Latent membrane protein (LMP) has transforming activity in fibroblasts, and Epstein-Barr antigen (EBNA)2 transactivates the expression of numerous cellular and viral genes. To determine whether the expression of EBNA2 and LMP is related to the histological and clinical presentation of PTLD, we tested their expression in 14 Epstein-Barr virus-positive cases. Using monoclonal antibodies to EBNA2 and LMP on paraffin sections, we found an expression of both proteins in 2 of 3 polymorphic PTLD and in 7 of 8 cases of monomorphic, large cell PTLD, without plasmacytic differentiation. One polymorphic and one large cell PTLD expressed LMP only. LMP and EBNA2 were found particularly in immunoblasts. The number of positive cells was extremely variable in the different cases as well as within the same biopsy. Three cases of PTLD had morphological and phenotypical features of plasmacytomas and did not stain for EBNA2 or LMP. This suggests that the expression of EBNA2 and LMP is related to the differentiation stage of the infected cells and that other viral or cellular proteins may contribute to tumor growth.

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